OAT EGYPT

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Jan 25th, 2007, 09:16 AM
  #41
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 46
Regarding the OAT home meal in Egypt -- a Muslim co-worker (good friend) who has made several trips to Egypt seriously suggested I give a gift of Jim Beam to my host family. He said that many Egyptian Muslims were closet drinkers and that the whiskey would be GREATLY appreciated. I was dumbfounded, but thought perhaps I could have a small bottle in my backpack and upon arrival at the home, if appropriate, give it to the host. Anyone experience alcohol drinking at the home meal?
(Sorry, I also posted this to "Egypt Jordan Mar 6 2006" but I think this thread is more appropriate)
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Jan 26th, 2007, 06:44 AM
  #42
 
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That does not sound appropriate. What if your hosts are not "closet drinkers" and are insulted?

There have to be better options than that -- candy, a book, refrigerator magnets, note cards.
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Jan 26th, 2007, 10:00 AM
  #43
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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I'll have to agree with Luisah. We are leaving for Egypt with OAT next week and we wouldn't think of bringing alchohol to our hosts. If they were friends and I knew they would not be insulted by the gift then it might be different. I have learned that even when I am familiar with someone on a professional basis, I cannot make judgements about their convictions with any certainty.
Go for the magnets, books and T shirts, much safer.
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Apr 16th, 2007, 01:57 PM
  #44
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Now that I've returned from my OAT trip to Egypt, I can report on the home hosted evening. First of all, it was a good thing I didn't bring a bottle of Jim Beam because the (upper middle class, interior decorator Muslim) hostess wore a scarf and no alcohol was served - her husband was not there (had to work late). She was helped by her three young adults sons. About the gift -- on a tour of her large condo I noticed a huge stack of candies, U.S. picture books and unopened wrapped gifts obviously from previous visitors -- I found out from our guide that she hosts OAT travellers EVERY WEEK! She seemed to genuinely enjoy this "sharing" experience and I'm glad I went, but don't fret over what would be an appropriate gift.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 04:00 AM
  #45
 
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Blithespirit, How about another view of a home hosted dinner with the same hosts? We were hosted by the same family during the last week of February. Likewise the husband was absent but arrived the last five minutes of our visit. Although he claimed he was stuck in traffic, our OAT guide told us he does this too frequently and if he didn't straighten out, they would not be hosting any more dinners. As far as a home hosted home cooked meal forget it, on the way downstairs we stumbled on the caterer who had returned to pick up the dishes. Other than a glimpse inside an upper middleclass Egytian home, not much value. The boys were bored and clearly unhappy with their role serving guests (not a male thing in Egypt). There are too many wonderful places and things to do in Cairo to waste time with this sort of nonsence. This of course is just my two cents (and those of half our tour group). It seemed as contrived as a trip to the zoo.
Chuck
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Apr 17th, 2007, 06:58 AM
  #46
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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ah... one of those "Wizard of Oz behind the curtain" moments... too bad. I wanted to believe there was an altruistic motive for hosting these events rather than a monetary one. I'm sad to realize how scripted the evening was. I remember the gracious Belgian couple in Temse who vied for one of the coveted spots to homehost the passing OAT barge travelers. "So many people answered the mayor's ad that the last time we got to do this was 18 months ago." It was a truly a memorable evening in their home.
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Apr 17th, 2007, 05:07 PM
  #47
 
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blithespirit,
Our friends have taken other OAT trips (Thailand and Turkey) and had wonderful home hosted experiences. Egypt may just be the exception. My impression of OAT is not all that good. They send out questionnares but never seem to respond in any meaningful way. Several of the couples sent comments under separate cover and all received the same form letter reply which really didn't even address the issue. The response letter was signed by MRS Lewis the Vice President of OAT. Our conclusion was that it was really just a fancy Grand Circle type trip with slight fancier packaging. Egypt is probably one of their poorer products. They are probably O.K. if your expectations are reasonable, our were too high.
Chuck
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Mar 30th, 2008, 01:56 PM
  #48
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 72
Leaving for Egypt with OAT in less than a month, we found this posting though a couple years old, very informative.

Thank you.


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Mar 30th, 2008, 08:13 PM
  #49
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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safarichuck

After our first trip with Grand Circle and subsequently other trips with OAT, I too was disappointed that nothing but form letters were sent out when I too wrote with details of great experiences and even photos I sent along.

I guess they are a big company and they have thousands of travelers. As long as they keep doing the great tours, I'll overlook their correspondence skills.

I must say their phone system has improved.

Until when and IF we are burned, we'll be raving about OAT


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Mar 31st, 2008, 05:09 AM
  #50
 
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We skip the home hosted dinners, but that's just us. Like the time away from the group to explore on our own.Nothing personal against the group, just like the free time. Only have been on one OAT trip (Thailand, Cambodia) and thought it was awesome. Have booked the Red Sea Tour with them and very excited about it. Have a fantastic trip.
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Apr 1st, 2008, 07:58 AM
  #51
 
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Re the home-hosted dinners. I've been to three and two were wonderful, but I have to agree with the assessment of the Cairo experience. I wonder if it's difficult to get people there to do it.

Southeastern, The Red Sea cruise looks intriguing. I hope you have a wonderful and will report back on the experience.
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May 1st, 2008, 11:47 AM
  #52
 
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This message is for Luisah or whoever chooses to reply. We are planning our 2nd trip with OAT this fall to Egypt. Our 1st was last Sept. to Tuscany and it was womnderful. My husband and I are very well travelled and have gone with groups and on our own. We had no problems with OAT except for a hotel change in Florence which was OK. My beef was that both were out of the main area and we had a good half hour walk to the main tourist areas. We are walkers and some days clocked as much as 10 miles on our own but it would have been nice to "pop out" of our hotel in the evening and be "there."

I'd appreciate some input as to climate in Sept and October. Also some comments on the hotels and Nile cruise ships that OAT uses. I have read some very negative reports on the hotels on Trip Advisor...Le Meridian Pyramids, New Cataract and Sofitel Winter Palace.

We are in our Late 60's and early 70's but very active and in good physical condition. Will we have much time to explore on our own or is this discouraged?
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May 1st, 2008, 02:58 PM
  #53
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The ship River Hathor was the highlight of the accomodations. The New Cataract was the compound the Russians used when they built the dam. The AC didn't work, the hotel management was indifferent and the food was awful. We stayed at the Mena House instead of Le Meridan. The Mena House was a great facility but OAT booked the worst rooms in the place, on the street, noisy, with doors that didn't close. The Winter Palace was also a beautiful old hotel but again the worst rooms. They were facing the sun so the room heated up 80 to 90 degrees and the antique AC did not work.

cj
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May 1st, 2008, 11:31 PM
  #54
 
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I can't remember if it is OAT or another one of those kind of tours, but one of them is now using the Hilton Golf Resort. It sounds really nice, doesn't it?
HA!
It's a million miles from everything. I hope you like Hilton food and don't mind paying their prices for a meal or a drink because there is NO CHANCE of getting away from the hotel to go anywhere else.

Beware of any hotels that might mention 6 October City in their address. They have been built (and are putting up more) to accomodate the new Museum when and if it ever gets built. Right now some are up and open and giving good prices to intice groups and individuals to book out there. I suggest that any money you save by booking in 6 October City will be spent on food, drinks and transportation to get away when you have free time.

The hotels inside the city may be more expensive, but in the long run you will have a better experience with them.
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May 2nd, 2008, 03:52 AM
  #55
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I am enjoying this thread,as I leave next Tuesday for Egypt/Jordan/Israel-Palestine.

One little tipping question.We have a driver meeting us at the airport and have already paid for the ride to the hotel.What would be a reasonable tip for the driver?We may or may not have Egyptian Pounds then.We'll certainly have a few Euro and US Dollars with us.
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May 2nd, 2008, 07:31 AM
  #56
 
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<<I'd appreciate some input as to climate in Sept and October. Also some comments on the hotels and Nile cruise ships that OAT uses. I have read some very negative reports on the hotels on Trip Advisor...Le Meridian Pyramids, New Cataract and Sofitel Winter Palace.>>

I went last October and it was still quite warm, especially around Cairo, so be prepared for it, cool clothes -- cotton or other lightweights, sun block, hat and sun glasses. People were putting shirts over their heads at the pyramids. Asian tourists (smart) were using umbrellas for protection. There is no shade there, but is some at the other monuments.

massagediva: You can tip in U.S. dollars, how much would depend upon how much help the driver gives you and how far you have to go. I got the impression the Egyptians often preferred dollars to pounds.

OAT doesn't use the Golf Resorts and I had better luck with the hotels than Kiboko, but I see that trip was in 2006. We had a beautiful room at the newly remodeled Mena House, which is moot now because they are using the Le Meridian Pyramids.

Our room at the New Cataract in Aswan was certainly not luxurious but it was comfortable and had a great view of the river, sail boats, the pool and the Old Cataract Hotel. You've probably seen photos of this view in the OAT brochures. I got some great photos from the balcony. Breakfast buffet was good but didn't have any other meals there. They had internet access at a reasonable rate.

The room in the New Winter Palace in Luxor was large and comfortable but not exceptional (like the Mena House) and had a balcony with a view of the gardens. Breakfast was fine and we had a buffet dinner there that was good. Service in the restaurant and at the pool for lunch was very slow.

There are some nice shops at the entrance to the hotel and along the street. I bought some long pants and a great shirt at Mobuco Cottons and saw a woman from the other group wearing the same shirt on the return flight.

We didn't have any problems with A/C in any of the hotels.

The boat is nice and the crew is great. They seem to enjoy their jobs and are very helpful and pleasant. I really enjoyed those four days more than any others; the pace slows down and you have plenty of time to sit on deck, relax and read or talk and drink and enjoy the view. Food onboard was good.

Overall, it was an execllent trip. I especially enjoyed the pre-trip extension to Alexandria -- now there is a lovely hotel -- the El Salamlek Palace in the Montazah Gardens. We had a suite with a view of the Mediterranean.

If you go take the Spiritual Cairo tour. It was an optional last year but may be part of the tour now.
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May 2nd, 2008, 07:40 AM
  #57
 
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<<Will we have much time to explore on our own or is this discouraged?>>

Sorry, forgot this question. You will have some time in Aswan and Luxor to explore a bit on your own.
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May 2nd, 2008, 10:57 AM
  #58
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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The dollar is going down here, so I think you'll find that the Egyptian pound is better received than it was a few years ago.
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May 2nd, 2008, 11:02 AM
  #59
 
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Yes,but I may not have Egyptian Pounds with me.Can some one give me a ballpark idea of a tip for a driver from the airport to city center with minimal help for luggage?
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May 2nd, 2008, 10:55 PM
  #60
 
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$5 USD would be nice and not over the top.
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